Hello, my name is Jordan and I’m addicted to sugar.
I’ve always said the first step to recovery is admitting it…
So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me fill you in a little bit more on WHY.
Disadvantages of Sugar
Sugar Causes Glucose Levels to Spike and Plummet
Did you know that your 2:00 PM crash could be from your sugar intake?
Or the reason you feel like you’re dragging yourself out of bed in the morning could be from your sugar binge the night before?
Sugar intake causes a HUGE spike in blood sugar levels.
But that’s not the problem…
It’s the MAJOR plummet that comes after the spike.
Unstable blood sugar levels not only contribute to fatigue, but could be the cause of your mood swings, headaches, and carvings.
Sugar Increases the Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Decreased Immune Function.
If you weren’t aware, the United States has more coaches, health food products, and knowledge about the human body than ever before.
Yet we also have more individuals classified as overweight and obese than ever before.
That is largely related to our increased sugar intake.
It’s okay to indulge every now and then, but increased sugar intake has led to our greater risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Outside of increasing your risk for these diseases, a high sugar diet decreases your immune function. Sugar interferes with your body’s ability to fight disease as bacteria and yeast THRIVE on sugar; therefore, they’re allowed to build up and lead to infections.
Sugar Causes Tooth Decay
Do you remember your dentist and hygienist asking how much pop, caffeine, and sugar you take in?
Despite one hygienist NEVER believing a word I said about not drinking pop or caffeine, I couldn’t deny my love for sugar…
But it is AWFUL for tooth decay!
Sugar is one of the most efficient food items when it comes to tooth decay.
Just like it’s impact in the gut and on immune function, sugar in the mouth and on the teeth allows bacteria and plaque to build up.
Sugar Increases Stress
Can we just leave it at that? Because does anyone REALLY need any more stress this year?
But seriously, sugar elevates your blood sugar levels and kicks your body into fight-or-flight mode and releases a LOT of your sympathetic response hormones.
The worst part is that after relying on sugar for too long, your body ALSO responds to a lack of sugar with a stress response. Your body perceives a drop in blood sugar as a threat, thus releasing hormones to help RAISE blood sugar levels.
This leads to a serious battle with anxiousness, irritability, and shakiness.
Regular Sugar Consumption Decreases Your Sensitivity to Sugar
Just like with alcohol, your body builds a tolerance with sugar.
The more you consume and the more often you consume it, the greater tolerance you build to it.
Sugar Affects Cognition
Sugar plays a BIG role in cognition.
Some research suggests that even a single instance of elevated glucose in the bloodstream can be harmful to the brain, which leads to slowed cognitive functioning, memory deficits, and attention issues.
Recent studies have found sugar to cause brain inflammation, BUT it’s not permanent.
There’s actually more research to suggest that decreasing your sugar intake and supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can IMPROVE memory and cognition.
Sugar Increases Your Risk of Weight Gain and Obesity
This might be the most well-known effect of sugar.
Sugary foods and drinks are everywhere.
They’re also FULL of calories, which means consuming too many of these leads to weight gain even with regular exercise.
Calories aside, research suggests that sugar affects the biological pathways regulating hunger, specifically leptin. Sugary products already digest quickly, so any disruption to your leptin levels (your hunger hormone) and you’re likely to consume more overall calories.
Advantages of Sugar
Here’s the thing, it’s not to say sugar is BAD because it DOES have some benefits.
Sugar has been shown to benefit the health and functioning of your brain.
Specifically, natural chocolate.
Research has found natural chocolate to contain cocoa flavanols that have the potential to improve cognitive functioning.
Your body quite literally would not survive without sugar.
Sugar is EVERYWHERE.
Add to that, you NEED the glucose in sugar to stay alive for neurological and muscular functioning.
Also, have you LOOKED at food labels these days?
Even healthy, high quality food options contain some sugar and trying to completely eliminate it could really add some stress to your life.
Sugar’s GREAT for Providing Energy
Sugar can provide an immediate boost as well as helping you store energy for later.
Upon taking in sugar, the body breaks it down into glucose molecules to be metabolized and converted into sugar.
Long term, the body will store some of that glucose for later which fuels you between meals.
Natural Sugar DOES Contain Beneficial Nutrients
Sugar isn’t ALL bad.
Natural sugars contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and hydration.
Natural Sugar Is LESS Processed
There is such a thing as MINIMALLY PROCESSED sugar.
It comes in items like fruit, honey, natural cacao, dairy, and more.
And researchers have found that consuming natural sugar is a lot better than taking in some of the highly processed, low quality food items in our society today.
Now, to be clear I am only eliminating highly processed added sugars. I’m still eating fruits and vegetables, and I have not removed healthy food items that contain sugar.
HOW I’m Eliminating Sugar
#1 – Create the Barrier
When I started this, I did a major kitchen clean out.
I said goodbye to the chocolate, marshmallows, candy trail mix, and ice cream around the house.
By doing this I’ve created a barrier.
Because there’s no sugar in the house, that means if I were to drop off the sugar cut, I’d have to get dressed, get in the car, drive to the store, and wander around the store to get some sugar.
All these steps between myself and the sugar make it more likely for me to recognize what I’m doing and stop myself.
#2 – Allow “Healthier” Substitutes in the House
This one was really important to me.
I knew that if I was going to do this, that I needed some healthier options to help beat the cravings to follow.
I loaded the house with fresh and frozen fruits, lightly salted almonds, popcorn (my other love), and vanilla Greek yogurt.
#3 – Prioritize Protein
Protein is the most satiating nutrient, which means if I’m eating enough protein, I’m more likely to stay full throughout the day and not think about sugar.
#4 – Avoid Heavily Processed Foods
The more processed the foods are, not only is it more likely they contain a lot of sugar, but it’s more likely to trigger some sugar cravings.
It’s not to say I eat A LOT of heavily processed foods, but it just meant cutting some other treats out for a short period of time.
#5 – Eliminate Artificial Sweeteners
This one is tough because quite literally artificial sweeteners are in darn near everything.
Personally, I swapped to a whey protein with fewer artificial sweeteners for my post workout mix.
I also moved to an almond butter lower in artificial sweeteners.
Now, let me tell you – it’s been a CHALLENGE so far.
But suffering some major sugar cravings for a short period of time sounds WAY BETTER than a life constantly craving but never truly enjoying sugar or my physique.
About The Author
Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.